Sheffield United 2 Leeds United 1
There were quite a few things I thought Heckingbottom (let’s call him Hecky from now on) might change for his first match in charge but I have to say leaving Pablo on the bench wasn’t one of them! And putting Kemar Roofe out wide was another! I will be fascinated to know his logic for both of those moves and can only believe he felt Roofe and Alioski could rip up the wings at Bramall Lane and fire balls across to PML all afternoon. Well, now he knows that doesn’t work and I’m surprised no one at Thorp Arch told him; they must all know just as we do! No matter, he’ll soon learn.
The rest of his first shot at a starting XI looked logical. He will have known that Dallas has played right back before, for Leeds and Ireland and indeed even for Brentford in the past and he may have favoured him over Anita – the only other available option – for his wing back potential. Playing Phillips and O’Kane together was a favoured Leeds option in the past, albeit usually with the flair of Saiz or Pablo in the side. Anyway, I, like thousands of other Leeds fans, swallowed hard when I realised Pablo was on the bench. Most of us would have swapped Roofe for Pablo having seen Roofe’s displays over the last few weeks.
And we were proved right within seconds of the start as Roofe gave up the ghost far too easily, powder puff easily, to allow Mark Duffy to cross. That was then compounded by a powder puff header from Eunan O’Kane that merely directed the ball onto Billy Sharp’s right boot. We know the rest. O’Kane currently seems to be in a private competition with Conor Shaughnessy to see who can have the greatest bad luck. Where are all those little leprechauns when you need them?
Roofe continued to disappoint throughout and it was noticeable how many Leeds fans were praying for his injury in the final minutes of the first half to be serious enough to remove him from the action. The chant, minutes earlier, of “Pa-blo Hernandez” was a good clue as to who we wanted on. We Leeds fans are not stupid and the only frustration remains as to why PH didn’t know all this.
Anyway, Once Pablo was on we finally had someone who could pick a telling pass and a teasing cross and we began to get somewhere. It was no surprise to any of us that it was Pablo who supplied the cross for Lasogga to finish perfectly early in the second half. We looked good in that second half too, as good if not better than the home side but once again our luck was out when referee Madley fell for a top quality dive by John Fleck and that was the game over.
It will take time for Hecky to work out some of the stuff we Leeds fans are already perfectly aware of, so I’m not going to be critical after just one game but I will expect to see Pablo start the game against Bristol next Sunday, whatever formation Hecky wants to put out there. I thought the Jansson Pennington pairing looked mostly solid too and even when Coops is available again I wouldn’t be surprised to see him struggle to get back in the side.
De Bock looks OK, although the plaudits he got for his first couple of games now seem a tad overdone to me. He got caught out a few times today in his defensive role and he’s clearly not a flying wing-back who is going to offer much in the way of an attacking threat. The jury is still mulling him over but I guess like most of our players, if they were Premier League quality, that’s where they’d be playing!
One thing that is slowly dawning on us is that, lump that he is, Lasogga is a finisher. He is starting to remind me of how many of us (me included) took a long time to accept that Chris Wood was a good striker. He, like Lasogga, isn’t well blessed with the skills the top strikers can call upon (and again if he was he’d already be in the Prem!) but he, like Lasogga will regularly stick the ball in the net if you keep feeding him the chances. We now have to come up with a way of getting hold of that ball in midfield more firmly and finding ways of creating those chances. Playing Pablo, and then Saiz when he’s available, will be a start!
Sheffield United Leeds United
Possession 46% 54%
Shots 9 14
On Target 3 3
Corners 8 5
Fouls 12 17